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Sunday, April 6, 2008

ISP's Take On Bell Over Traffic-Shaping Policy

In mid-March, Canadian telecom giant Bell extended its "traffic-shaping" policy to the smaller independent companies that rent its network. Under traffic shaping, Bell identifies certain Internet applications, like BitTorrent, and throttles bandwidth to customers using these protocols during peak traffic periods. The Canadian Association of Internet Providers, which has 55 members that represent about 100,000 customers across Canada, has asked the CRTC (Canadian Radio Telecommunication Commission) to issue a cease-and-desist order on Bell's throttling of their Internet speeds. The companies are arguing that Bell has an unfair advantage against them, particularly because it sells its own competing Internet services under the Sympatico brand. In a filing to the CRTC, the association says Bell's action has "caused serious degradation of the performance and service speeds of the retail internet access and other services offered by independent ISPs," In it's defense Bell representative Mirko Bibic says "We're taking reasonable steps in a very objective fashion to manage the issue. Wholesale and retail operations are being treated exactly the same so there is no issue about undue preference or discrimination."

It will be interesting to see how the CRTC rules on this, but even if it rules in the favour of the independent companies, has Bell already caused them irreparable harm?

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